In France, the trade unions used May 1st for further protests against the pension reform. For Labor Day, they organized demonstrations in many cities.
In France, unions and workers are using the Labor Day rallies to launch new nationwide demonstrations against the government’s controversial pension reform. In many cities there are protest marches against the government’s law. The powerful French trade unions have called for more than 300 protest events across the country.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators were expected in advance, 100,000 of them in Paris alone. Information about the actual number of participants was not yet available in the afternoon. The police also responded to riots. Tear gas has already been used against protesters in the capital. Pictures of the Place de la Nation are circulating on the Internet, which seems to be shrouded in wafts of fog after the operation. There are also said to have been riots in Nantes.
According to media reports, demonstrators in Lyon set vehicles on fire. The reform-oriented trade union CFDT complained that radical forces used the protests to use violence. According to the newspaper “Le Monde”, numerous peaceful demonstrators left the rally because of the riots, including families.
Unions disagree about search for compromise
The head of the left-wing CGT union, Sophie Binet, criticized Macron for having isolated himself as a result of the pension reform. “The executive cannot rule without the support of the people,” she said before the Paris protests. Her union has not yet decided whether to accept the government’s offer to talk about other labor market issues.
CFDT chief Laurent Berger accused Macron’s government of turning a deaf ear to people’s demands during the massive protests of recent months. However, he appeared willing to talk. “We have to put other proposals on salaries and working conditions on the table,” he told BFM TV.
constitutional Trick costs Macron approval
Macron had pushed through the raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64 with a constitutional trick without a vote in parliament and therefore only just survived a vote of no confidence. According to opinion polls, the vast majority of French people reject the pension reform. There have been strikes and large-scale demonstrations against the project for months.
Macron’s approval ratings have fallen close to the record low during the crisis of the “yellow vest” protests. The president and his government argue the reform is necessary to keep France’s generous pension system from collapsing. The unions, on the other hand, believe that this can also be achieved by other means, such as higher taxes on the rich or radical changes in the pension system.
It is also feared that widespread dissatisfaction with Macron’s reform plans could make his political work more difficult in the long term and give the far-right a boost. The Rating agency Fitch downgraded France’s credit rating by one notch to “AA-” on Friday. The possibility of a political gridlock and social unrest posed risks to Macron’s agenda, it said.